Money laundering on the increase?
There has been a sharp rise in the number of suspicious activities related to money laundering and terrorism financing in the country, a financial intelligence unit at the Bank of Namibia has said.
According to the Financial Intelligence Centre, 148 suspicious transaction reports were received in 2011 compared to 88 in 2010 representing a 68% increase in reported suspicious activities.
The centre is responsible for administering the Financial Intelligence Act, the country’s main anti-money laundering preventative law. The Act mandates the centre to receive and analyse suspicious transaction reports from accountable institutions and supervisory bodies designated in the Act. In addition, the centre requests for information from law enforcement agencies, as well as foreign Financial Intelligence Units, pertaining to money laundering and terrorism financing.
The Act also allows the centre to disseminate intelligence reports produced from analysis conducted on suspicious transactions to the country’s law enforcement agencies and foreign Financial Intelligence Units, in order to combat money laundering and terrorism financing in the country and abroad as well as ensuring that accountable institutions and supervisory bodies comply with their obligations under the Financial Intelligence Act.
While the majority of the suspicious transactions reports reported during 2011 were from the banking sector (121), a sharp increase was noted in reports filed by members of the public. Reports from members of the public increased from two in 2010 to nine last year.
The Financial Intelligence Centre said the increase in suspicious transactions reports can be attributed mainly to measures put in place to bring about compliance. These measures include: in-depth Financial Intelligence Act compliance training given by the centre to accountable institutions whose products and services pose a high risk for money laundering and terrorism financing abuse and members of the public who have become more vigilant of money-laundering activities, among others.
As a result of the intelligence gathered, 165 reports were disseminated to local law enforcement agencies for the purposes of investigating suspected activities of money laundering and terrorism financing in Namibia and to facilitate the seizing, freezing and confiscation of suspected proceeds of crime within Namibia.
The centre also disseminated a total of 20 intelligence reports to foreign Financial Intelligence Units for purposes of investigating suspected activities of money laundering and terrorism financing and to facilitate the seizing, freezing and confiscation of suspected proceeds of crime occurring in such foreign jurisdictions.
Possible offences identified during analyses were, among others, corruption, fraud, diamond smuggling, drug trafficking, tax evasion, financing of terrorism and human trafficking. A few of these cases are pending in court, either for prosecution, asset freezing or confiscation, and as such have not been finalised. No convictions relating to money laundering were obtained during 2011.